Pass around the salt shaker and let everyone take a grain after last nights win at the Charlotte Bobcats, because it was still the Charlotte Bobcats. Over the past three seasons those Bobcats have bitten harder than they have purred knocking off the Phoenix Suns in five out of the last six games.
A win is a win, but this game served as a level of redemption for the lack of success against Charlotte for this group. It also ends the lackluster road trip where the team served up two straight losses.
That alone should make this an impressive win for a team searching for signs at the beginning of what appears to be a very long season.
During that stretch the Bobcats were the worst offensive team in the NBA averaging 92.18 points per game, that was until the Suns came up on the schedule. In those six games they lit up the scoreboard with 113 points per game attacking the Suns putrid defense. The team did not exercise their defensive demons necessarily in a 117-110 win, but a win is a win.
This game was all about the game within the game where the Suns received two pivotal performances from Marcin Gortat and Shannon Brown.
Each had a great game in their own right, but went about it in complete polar opposite ways.
The "Polish Hammer" as he is affectionately known as put on a show on both ends of the floor with a career high seven blocks to pair with his fourth double-double (23 points 10 rebounds) of the season. Defensively he was a force swatting away the young, attacking Bobcats like a Lion on Pride Rock forcing them into a perimeter oriented offense.
Through five games Gortat has 21 total blocks and is averaging 4.20 per game leading the league in both categories. The imprint on a game Gortat can have with his defense is an identity that is slowly becoming his own, especially if he is being rewarded on the other end for his hard work, which he is.
On offense he put on a clinic for how a big man should score without running one play for him. Gortat on three separate plays moved without the ball on weak side to get open for laser passes from Michael Beasley, Luis Scola, and Goran Dragic respectively. No highlight finishes or moves, but a methodical, diverse array of scoring on only 14 shot attempts. It was all out hustle and effort for Gortat proving, again, that he is still a basketball player minus No. 13, "I don't know who said that," said Gortat about his critics. "I am comfortable scoring from different areas on the floor and hopefully coach will use me."
Then you have Brown who flat out put on a show in the fourth quarter where he went 6-6 from three. It was especially remarkable considering all six would be deemed by a coach as a terrible shot choice that would have got him yanked out of a game along with an earful. Those six threes tied Brown's career-high that he set last year at Denver in a loss.
It was like Alvin Gentry said after Brown got hot in the Detroit win, "I don't know what got into him (Brown), but I hope he bottles it up."
This second unit for the Suns has been struggling to score all season so there are going to be games where Brown (or someone) needs to take control, and well, take some bad shots. The good thing for Brown is that they went in and he got on another level with his confidence after the first few went down.
The offense went stagnant with basically four guys watching Brown dribble for 18 seconds before hoisting up a three, but in this particular game it worked. This is not the blueprint for the season.
That is something the team has lacked for the better part of 70 straight regular season games. They didn't really have anyone with that "swagger" or confidence to take over a game last year. Nobody had the mindset when they caught the ball of, "I am going kill whoever is guarding me."
Is that person Shannon Brown on a nightly basis or with any kind of consistency? Probably not, but these types of performances have to rub off on the rest of the team or they will continue to lose to the likes of Orlando and get their monies worth from teams like Charlotte.
Two totally different performances, both great in their own right and each fundamental in winning games going forward for the Suns.